The AM WS shorts from Cube are designed to be hardwearing, all mountain shorts for women (hence the AM and the WS). Coming in this black colourway, that looks more like blue to me, or a flashy orange they are constructed from a lightweight polyester that holds a good amount of stretch.
Whilst these summer/dry weather trail shorts don't look that stylish, they are packed full of the features you would expect to find on shorts at the top end of a price range, there are two hand pockets, a zippered leg pocket, a rear pocket and waist adjusters. The material used is designed to be quick drying which it surely is, the lightweight nature of it makes sure of that. There are extra perforated holes at the hips to further maximise breathability in the heat, testing in autumn/winter it wasn’t something I felt the benefit of.
This lightness and stretch also shows its benefits in other ways when coupled with the nice general cut of the shorts, it's easy to move about and they don’t ruck up or twist uncomfortably when seated and pedalling for long periods. On long days in the saddle, I felt the benefit of greatly reduced bulk around the top of the thighs.
The open hip pockets are relatively big and good for storing items when off the bike but I wouldn’t recommend putting anything in them whilst pedalling. The cut of the pockets causes then to billow out slightly from the hip, not a performance issue but one that causes the short to look and feel less streamlined than it otherwise would. The zip leg pocket is large enough to hold a phone or a snack, useful if you don’t mind the precarious location. I’m not a fan of expensive or pointy items in any pockets, regardless of the brand.
Large waist adjusters can be hit or miss, running the risk of sticking out proudly or catching on jersey material. Here though they are hitting the nail on the head where adjustability meets dexterity, the tabs are easy to grab and secure to the number of small squares of Velcro. I did not experience any snagging of jersey material but I can imagine if the tab extends off the end of the Velcro on the waistband this might be another story. These tabs are the same ones used in the cuff of the women's AM Storm Jacket, where they proved too big and cumbersome, but here they are totally applicable. One could argue then that you are wearing shorts a size too large. For reference, I'm a dress size 10 and wore a size medium. Whilst talking about the waistband, it’s nice and high at the back which further adds to the comfort of the shorts and helps stop any dust or dirt getting down the back. It also holds another small zip pocket for a key, snack or lift pass.
Lengthwise the Cube AW WS shorts fall to the knees but not over them, they are shaped to fit over a knee pad but are also tapered in at the knee meaning they sit on top of the knee pad rather than falling over it. If you have knee pads with a long upper cuff you won’t be subject to the dreaded thigh gap otherwise, the shorts come up a tad, er short, when pedalling and leave some skin on show.
At £80 the Cube shorts sit at the upper end of the price bracket for dry weather trail shorts, if a light short for hot weather is high on your list of demands then these will go down a treat. In all, the Cube AM WS shorts are a great option for an all-day-trail kind of short, they won’t afford you any protection or fit very well over knee pads but they will allow you to stay cool in warmer weather, maximising comfort via a thin, lightweight material and a thoughtful cut.